On the 25 March in 1858 the twelve-year old peasant girl, Bernadette Soubirous felt drawn to the grotto where a beautiful lady had been appearing to her frequently since 11 February that year. Bernadette asked her who she was, and the lady in white said in the local dialect, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”
All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers. (Acts 1:14)
At the beginning of his second book, Acts of the Apostles, Luke is particularly careful to set the scene for the birth in power of the Church at Pentecost.
Shared with the Church
Finally, we come to that dimension of the Church which is outreach. The Church has a mission to all, so that as Pope Paul VI could state that evangelization belongs to the very nature of the Church. Indeed, as we have already seen, we are sent forth at each Mass in love, service and evangelization. Here too Mary is our icon.
Celebrated in the Eucharist
Where is the heart of the Church? It is not in its institutions, however prestigious, even necessary. Vatican II teaches us that the “source and the summit” of the entire Christian life, and hence of the Church is the Eucharist (see Church 11). In the Eucharist we have all that is essential to the Church:
Manifested in the Paschal Mystery
In the Annunciation we have the revelation of God’s promise of an outpouring of Trinitarian love and Mary’s response. The implementation of this revelation and promise was the Paschal Mystery of the eternal Son of God. The term “Paschal Mystery” became common after Vatican II to speak about the redemption,
A very easy question to ask, but a difficult one to answer is, what is the Church? Even more difficult is, what is the Church for? Try answering the first one, by completing the sentence, “The Church is...” What did you come up with? It is relatively effortless to come up with a name for the Church, such as the People of God/the Body of Christ. It is much more difficult to come up with a statement that locks into the heart of the Church.
Mary and the Carmelite Mystics
In the extensive writing about the Carmelite mystics there is, I think one major lacuna. Not nearly enough attention has been given to the place of Mary in the mystical journey. On its coming to Europe in the mid-13th century, the Carmelite Order developed over a period of about 300 years several images of the Virgin. Firstly, she was Patron. The hermits chose her on Mount Carmel as their Patron by the medieval symbolism of dedicating their first church to her.
|As Carmelites We live our life of allegiance to Jesus Christ and to serve Him faithfully with a pure heart and a clear conscience through a commitment to seek the face of the living God (the contemplative dimension of life), through prayer, through fraternity, and through service (diakonia). These three fundamental elements of the charism are not distinct and unrelated values, but closely interwoven.
All of these we live under the protection, inspiration and guidance of Mary, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom we honor as "our Mother and sister."